Getting Started in the SEO Field

Dec 29, 2010 - 11:59 am 6 by

Education is always a step towards a rewarding career, but as any recent college graduate can attest - getting a job right out of school can be difficult these days. There are some fields that are hiring at a rapid pace, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of them. A recent post at High Ranking Forums from a new member asks what are the best first steps into career in SEO.

The poster describes having just completed a certification program at Search Engine College(SEC), and needing to find work without much "real life" experience under her (his?) belt.

The city where I live only has 1 SEO firm that isn't currently recruiting, and I'm wondering the best way to gain some experience so that I can eventually turn this into a full time career. I know there is a lot of SEO work available on freelance sites... but I don't think I have the experience yet to attempt to bid for those kind of jobs.

First of all I have to congratulate "Gena" for not trying to fake experience. Some of the resumes I have seen are filled with downright lies when it comes to past experience. I even saw one where the person claimed to be a former Director of SEO at the agency where I work! (No one had ever heard of him)

SEO and other search engine marketing certification programs from entities such as SEC, SEMPO (disclosure: I serve on the Board of SEMPO), and Bruce Clay provide the necessary education to get started in the field, but most fall short when it comes to job placement, based on my observations. SEC does state on its domain that there is access to job seeker forums, and SEMPO promises similar support, but frankly once you get the degree, you are still on your own when it comes to getting a job in the field.

Gena's frustration is partially because of living in a town with only one SEO practitioner. I hate to say it, but one shrewd move would be to consider moving to a more marketing agency-centric location. Of course, not many agencies are going to foot the bill for that travel, given low experience level. Perhaps Gena can go pitch a local design or marketing firm and convince them that they need to add SEO to their suite of services.

I can tell you from personal experience (and sometime anguish) that it is very difficult to find a junior resource that has any SEO training, and is willing to move on their own dime. Of course, more experienced SEOs are even harder to find, so in this case being green may be less of a hindrance than for other industries.

I would recommend that Gena keeps networking and perhaps can find a job remotely. Please share your thoughts, experience, and advice at the High Rankings Forums or in the comment below.


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